Recommended Aircraft for Heavy & Outsized Freight Transport

Monday, April 15, 2024

Air Partner have successfully executed numerous projects involving heavy & outsized cargo.

One of our recent projects compromised transporting a 100-ton mobile crane from Colorado to Hawaii on board an AN-124 aircraft. Our US Cargo Account Director, Joe Lacek, noted:

“The loading took 5 hours because the top of the crane was only inches from the top of the interior of the fuselage, and we drove the crane at around 2 feet per minute.”  

When choosing the right aircraft for your freight, it's important to consider cargo dimensions and airport conditions at the origin and destination. We offer a wide range of aircraft, including nose-loading freighters, ramp-loading aircraft, and aircraft with onboard cranes. Here are our top three aircraft recommendations that we utilise the most for heavy and outsized projects:

Antonov AN-124: 

The Antonov AN-124 is our top recommendation for transporting heavy & outsized equipment. It is currently the largest aircraft available for this purpose, equipped with an integrated onboard crane capable of lifting up to 30 tons of cargo. The aircraft also features roll-on, roll-off ramps for cargo, both fore and aft. It can kneel in a nose-down position to facilitate loading and unloading processes. Additionally, the AN-124's high-mounted wings allow it to operate on unpaved runways, making it an ideal choice for transportation in remote locations.

  • Range: Short to medium haul; 2,889 mi / 4,650 km 
  • Payload:  264,554 lbs / 120,000 kg
  • Door size: 251 x 173 in / 640 x 440 cm


Lockheed Hercules C-130 / L-382: 

We consider the Lockheed Hercules C-130/ L-382 as one of the most reliable, versatile, and powerful aircraft for hauling oversized loads to and from remote areas. Its roll-on and roll-off cargo capability is one of this cargo aircraft's exceptional features, making it highly adaptable for different freight shapes and sizes; it is mainly used for bulk and vehicles.  

  • Range: Medium haul;  2,361 mi / 3,799 km
  • Payload:  46,297 lbs / 21,000 kg
  • Door size: 118 x 102 in / 301 x 260 cm


Antonov AN-12: 

The Antonov AN-12 aircraft is often preferred for time-sensitive cargo transportation due to its ability to operate on short runways. It accommodates heavier consignments, and one of its remarkable features is the built-in loading system, which further simplifies the loading process. 

  • Range: Short to medium haul; 3,542 mi / 5,700 km
  • Payload:  39,683 lbs / 18,000 kg 
  • Door size: 117 x 116 in / 298 x 295 cm 


Ilyushin IL-76:  

The Iluyushin IL-76 aircraft has been widely used for transporting ramp-delivered cargo, particularly for transporting large and heavy items that cannot be transported by other means. With its ability to operate from unpaved runways, it has been useful in underdeveloped regions. Its most notable feature is an internal winch system that can pull cargo weighing up to 10 tons per piece inside the aircraft. 

  • Range: Medium to long haul; 2,700 mi / 4,400 km
  • Payload:  132,277 lbs / 60,000 kg
  • Door size: 135 x 127 in / 345 x 325 cm


Contact our Global Cargo Charter Team 24/7/365 

Speak with our Cargo Charter team about your heavy or outsized projects to discuss how our air charter solutions can help you today. We would be delighted to assist you and provide our expertise and service.


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